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Dog Pee Might Be Bad News for Cities — Here’s Why

A study suggests it harms ‘green infrastructure.’




Dog urine may be undermining cities’ efforts to keep sewer systems from overflowing, a new study suggests.

Cities’ “green infrastructure,” such as street trees, helps to absorb rainwater, Popular Science notes. But these areas also happen to attracts lots of dogs that need to do their business.

And the urine might be making soil in those areas less absorbent because of its low pH and its nitrogen content, according to a study by Columbia University undergraduate and graduate researchers. It also may be causing the soil microbiome to become less diverse.

In areas such as sidewalk tree pits, ““the soils seemed barren, compacted, and the water from rainfall didn’t seem to penetrate very well,” ecologist Krista McGuire, who led the research, said of her reason for starting the project.


The researchers explained in their paper:

“Our study investigated the effects of canine urine on the urban soil microbial communities in a greenhouse experiment by treating Liriope muscari, a common plant found in New York City green infrastructure, with different concentrations of canine urine for 4 weeks in an experimental setting. We found that urine application significantly decreased total soil microbial biomass and microbial richness, and increased water runoff volume.”

Read more at Popular Science



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